Thomas sat on the sofa, while his mother, Linda, was cleaning the living room.
‘Do you have work later, honey?’ she asked.
‘Nah, day off,’ replied Thomas.
‘Then get your butt off that sofa and help your mother with the chores so she can go do the groceries.’
Thomas rolled his eyes. He sighed.
‘Oh, poor you, a young man of twenty has to stand up. Meanwhile, your mother does everything around here.’
‘Yes, mother,’ sighed Thomas. ‘I’ll take care of the rest of the chores for you.’
‘Good!’ She giggled, squeezing his cheek and then handing him the vacuum cleaner.
Chuckling and shaking his head, Thomas began cleaning the bookshelf with the little vacuum brush. He paused, inclining his head and took out the photo album. He laughed as he flipped through the pages. His little sister’s face as a baby was so funny. She was adorable.
‘Hey, mom?’ asked Thomas. ‘Why don’t you have baby photos of me at the hospital?’
‘Oh, the camera was stolen, honey, before any photos could be developed,’ replied Linda.
‘Right, I remember now.’ Thomas put the album back and resumed cleaning as his mother stepped out the door.
A few moments later, the front door burst open as though a typhoon had just entered the house.
‘Guess who aced her math exam!?’ announced Sophie.
Thomas let everything fall to the floor, not bothering to shut the vacuum cleaner off, and ran to his sister, lifting her off the ground.
They laughed. ‘Thank you, thank you.’ She bowed dramatically. ‘I definitely get my brains from dad, and not my brother.’
Thomas playfully shoved her.
‘Mom’s got you cleaning on your day off?’ asked Sophie.
‘You guessed it.’
Sophie went to put her stuff away and do whatever it was she did when she came home from school before coming to help Thomas.
‘Ooh, photo album. You didn’t place it back properly.’
‘Whatever,’ laughed Thomas.
Sophie began realigning everything Thomas had vacuumed around, making sure everything was neat. ‘A shame mom and dad lost the photo album that contained your baby photos, eh?’
‘What do you mean?’ Thomas powered off the vacuum cleaner. ‘Mom told me the camera got stolen.’
‘Uh, no, I distinctly remember dad telling me the album was lost,’ corrected Sophie.
Thomas scowled. ‘Why would they tell each of us a different story?’
Sophie shrugged. ‘Beats me. Buuut, maybe they just misplaced it.’ Her face lit up. ‘Oh, I know, I bet it’s buried under piles of boxes in the attic!’
Sophie grabbed Thomas’s hand and began pulling him towards the attic’s hatch.
‘Seriously? You want to go looking for it now?’ complained Thomas.
‘No time like the present! Who knows, maybe we’ll find some skeletons up there.’
‘Why do I get the feeling you’d be excited if we actually did find real skeletons up there?’
‘Because you know your sister so well! Now come.’
Up in the attic, they sat cross-legged, rummaging through boxes and discarding anything that seemed unimportant.
‘Ooh, look at this. Mom and dad’s wedding photos,’ said Sophie.
‘Doesn’t look like our neighbourhood,’ noted Thomas.
‘No,’ Sophie flipped the photo, looking at what was written on the back. ‘Here it says, Saint-George Church.’ She paused. ‘Oh, that is way at the other end of the country.’
‘Huh, they never mentioned getting married there or moving,’ mused Thomas. ‘Strange.’
Sophie took something else out of the box. ‘It looks like there are a bunch of things from back then.’
She pulled out a baby onesie. ‘Oh, my god! This is so adorable!’ Her voice reached high-pitch levels Thomas wasn’t sure she had ever reached before.
‘Okay, you opera singer, don’t freak out,’ Thomas teased.
‘I bet you this was yours. Why would they keep it stashed away up here, though?’ Sophie turned her head and sneezed into her elbow. ‘Sorry.’
Sophie dug into the box again, as Thomas took the baby onesie from her. It was yellow with little white bunnies on it. It was adorable.
‘Oh my god!’
Thomas looked up to see Sophie’s aghast face. He had never seen her like this before, and his heart immediately began to thump with worry.
‘What’s wrong?’ he asked.
Sophie hesitated. She was holding a cut-out piece of newspaper.
Sophie began reading the article. ‘“After reporting her one-year-old son missing, Mrs. Deirdre Emerson was sentenced to life in prison for allegedly killing her son. She pleaded not guilty and maintains that she did not kill her son.’”
‘Okay? And?’ Thomas didn’t like the look on his sister’s face.
Sophie looked up at him. ‘You remember how I used to tease you all the time about your nose?’
‘Uh, yeah? Because my nose is significantly different from yours or mom’s or dad’s.’
Sophie handed him the news article. ‘That woman has your nose and is from the same town where mom and dad got married.’
Thomas took the article cutout and stared at the woman’s mugshot. He gently touched his nose. There was a distinguishable resemblance. The implications hit Thomas in the gut and he felt like the room was spinning.
‘Deep breaths.’ Sophie’s voice seemed distant. Thomas stared up at her, realizing he’d been holding his breath.
Suddenly every little inconsistency he’d noticed throughout the years and the strangeness of it all came crashing down. He gasped, putting a hand to his chest.
‘No, this isn’t possible.’
‘Don’t you want to find out the truth?’ insisted Sophie.
‘You’re romanticising,’ snapped Thomas. ‘It’s just a coincidence.’
‘Why would they keep this, then? Huh? And then why would they hide it in the attic?’ Sophie paused. ‘I think you were kidnapped, Thomas.’ Thomas heaved. Sophie pressed on. ‘If it was just a question of adoption, then this woman would not have been accused of killing her baby. Her baby disappeared, and it has to be you, it just has to be!’
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